UF Professors Discuss How Technology Can Make Voting Accessible

In Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Events, News, Research & Innovation

Originally posted in The Alligator

Two UF professors juxtaposed how to make voting accessible and secure with what those votes could mean for the presidency Tuesday night.

About 50 people sat in the Pugh Hall Ocora as UF professors Juan Gilbert and Michael McDonald discussed new voting technology, as well as the early votes already tallied for the upcoming Nov. 8 election. The Bob Graham Center for Public Service held the forum, which was called Explore More: The Democracy Machine.

Gilbert spoke first, telling the audience about a voting system he and others created called Prime III. The technology allows voters with disabilities to cast a ballot and prevents errors in ballot counting, the chair of the UF Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering said.

When using Prime III, voters can touch the screen or use their voice to vote, Gilbert said. After the 2000 election, Gilbert and his team were inspired to change the voting system to avoid the errors that occurred with Florida’s butterfly ballot and hanging chads.

“We didn’t know, but we had created the world’s most accessible voting technology,” Gilbert said. “If you can’t see, if you can’t hear, if you can’t read and if you don’t have arms, you can vote using the same technology as anyone else.”

McDonald told students and Gainesville residents that based on current early votes in Iowa and North Carolina, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would have to carry multiple swing states in order to win.

“Surprising events could happen between now and Election Day, but most likely from what we can look at in polling data and early voting data, things look good for Clinton,” McDonald said.

Kaitlyn Silverberg, a UF behavioral and cognitive neuroscience senior, said she attended to hear the professor’s unbiased, factual thoughts on the election.

“I thought (McDonald’s) predictions seemed reasonable, and I liked how he showed the different possibilities for the outcome of the election, depending on swing states,” the 21-year-old said.